July 9, 2018 / 10:26 AM / 2 months ago

Exclusive: France's Total prepares sale of $1.5 billion of UK North Sea fields

LONDON (Reuters) - France’s Total is set to sell a third of its stake in Laggan Tormore gas field along with other oil and gas assets in Britain’s North Sea that could fetch a total of $1.5 billion, four banking and industry sources said.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of French oil giant Total is seen on a flag at La Defense business and financial district in Courbevoie near Paris, France. May 16, 2018. REUTERS/Charles Platiau/File Photo

The divestment will include stakes in a number of smaller fields Total acquired as part of the 2017 $4.95 billion deal to buy the oil and gas division of A.P. Moller-Maersk, the sources said. The deal was completed in March.

Those fields include Golden Eagle, in which Total has a 32 percent stake, as well as Dumbarton (30 percent), Bruce (43 percent) and Keith (25 percent).

Bank of America Merrill Lynch will run the sale of the 20 percent stake in Laggan Tormore process, which leave Total with a 40 percent stake once complete. Investment bank Lambert Energy will lead the sale of the other stakes.

Total and Lambart Energy declined to comment. Bank of America Merrill Lynch did not respond to a request for comment.

The sale is part of a broad change of guard in the aging North Sea where veteran players are seeking to dispose of older fields with declining production while new, nimbler companies believe they can squeeze out more value.

Last week, Chevron said it was preparing to sell its fields in the central North Sea. Royal Dutch Shell and BP have also sold a large number of fields in recent years.

The Laggan Tormore gas field, in which Total now has 60 percent, started production in February 2016 and can produce up to 90,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day.

Any deal for the Bruce and Keith fields is likely to be complicated, however.

London-listed Serica Energy, which agreed to acquire stakes in Bruce, Keith and the adjacent Rhum field from BP last year, is seeking a waiver from the U.S. government to allow it to operate Rhum, which is 50 percent owned by Iran’s national oil company, as Washington prepares to re-impose sanctions on Tehran.

Without a waiver, the field will have to shut down, leaving Bruce and Keith holding little value, the sources said.

Editing by Edmund Blair

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